Thursday, March 16, 2006

Peepee de Chat



I was back at my monthly wine tasting class yesterday, trying out three wines from the Loire Valley region. Our guide excelled himself in his description of the first bottle we tasted, a white aperitif wine.

He could scent: lemon, Granny Smith apples, the citronella herb, acacia flowers, honeysuckle flowers (chèvrefeuille), dried figs and, get this: peepee de chat - which he later clarified as a musky odour but not before one of the audience had agreed: "yes, a young cat, male, castrated..."

This wine, a Sauvignon cepage, had a very pale straw yellow colour (called 'jaune paille'), and "was ideal", said our instructor, "for getting the mouth salivating before a meal". Which indeed it did. Fortunately, there was some bread on hand. It struck me that an intelligent restauranteur might serve a glass of this wine absolutely free immediately before taking the dinner orders...

What interested me even more was that our professor informed us that the wine had a mineral scent of 'silex' (flint). Other wines also have mineral bouquets apparently, some being 'craie' (chalky) and yet others with a distinct aroma of hydrocarbons, particularly a number of the more recherché Reisling wines of Alsace. Presumably they don't actually taste of petrol...

Finally, I start to understand Jilly Goolden's comment on the BBC's Food and Drink programme. She was well known for her flamboyant wine descriptions, but one I particularly remember was: "this wine smells like the engine of a small propellor aircraft taking off."

3 comments:

Andrea said...

I have never seen a picture of you but I have the most ammusing image in my head of you sniffing wine right now. hehe

nick prince said...

Jonathan Wonham, I knew you when you were nothing but this peepee de chat is terrific, have you tasted a greek wine called

"On a mat a peer" It is inspired by winemaker Xenakis Shackupopolis's incontinent cat, Cascade, not castrated, he's a sprayer.

Jonathan said...

Thank you Nick Prince, no I haven't tried this one. Must remember to add it to my list.

By the way, what's in my stars?